October 6, 2021

American Kashrus Agencies Follow Stringent Laws on Shmittah in Israel

New York…With the advent of the new Jewish year of 5782 comes Shmittah, observed every seven years. This is a year where a Sabbatical (Shmittah) is observed in the land of Israel. During this year, the fields lie fallow, and thousands of farmers literally abandon their fields. To ease the hardship of abstention from fruits and produce during that year, the Chief Rabbinate “sells” all of Israel’s fields to a non-Jew, a practice many consider a leniency and devoid of the strict observance of Shmittah. A worldwide Keren Hashviis organization supports the many farmers who chose not to activate their fields during Shmittah. While the laws basically apply to Israel, they do have implications for imported products from Israel. According to Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the Orthodox Union, the OU has historically not relied on the leniency of the “land sale” and has only recognized products where Shmittah was properly observed.